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Learning English - Words in the News
26 April, 2006 - Published 15:46 GMT
Hyundai scandal
Hyundai bosses apologise for scandal
Hyundai bosses apologise for scandal

The chairman of Hyundai Motors, one of South Korea's most successful companies, has been called in for questioning by state prosecutors who are investigating charges of financial wrongdoing. This report from Charles Scanlon.

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More than a hundred journalists and photographers packed the prosecutors' office to witness the arrival of one of South Korea's most powerful business leaders. The chairman of Hyundai Motors, Chung Mong-koo, made a brief statement, apologising to the Korean public and promising to cooperate with the investigation.

State prosecutors are investigating the creation of slush funds worth tens of millions of dollars. They say the secret money was used to bribe politicians and government officials to reduce the debts of troubled subsidiaries. They are also looking into allegations of the illegal transfer of shares that enabled the Chung family to retain management control.

Mr Chung's son, a senior executive at the group, was questioned for eighteen hours last week. So far three people have been arrested in connection with the allegations.

Hyundai Motors last week offered an apology for any wrongdoing and the Chung family agreed to pay a billion dollars to charity. That was seen as a plea for mitigation following a similar donation by another major business group, Samsung, earlier this year.

South Korea's family-owned industrial groups have long been tainted by corruption scandals and lack of transparency. In the past they've tended to receive lenient treatment in recognition of their contribution to the national economy.

Charles Scanlon, BBC, Seoul

Listen to the words

promising to cooperate
saying that he will do what they ask

slush funds
secret money used to finance illegal activity

to bribe
to persuade them by giving them money

companies that are part of a larger company

statements that suggest that someone has done something wrong

to retain management control
to stay as head of the company

offered an apology
has said sorry

have long been tainted by corruption scandals
have for a long time had a bad reputation for financial wrongdoing

lack of transparency
not allowing others to know what they are doing

lenient treatment in recognition of
less criticism or strong punishment because of

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